Bianca Knows Best ... and Helps a Gardener

| March 10, 2009
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Dear Bianca,

With spring fast approaching, I've been thinking about planting an organic vegetable garden. Given the economic situation, it makes sense to start growing my own food. Can save money and help the Earth by eating locally.

However, I share my yard with three others. It's an old Midtown house that's been converted into apartments, and we all share a fenced-in backyard. There's plenty of room for a garden, but after talking with my neighbors, one man vetoed the idea. He likes to leave his dog in the backyard and he didn't want to be inhibited from doing so because of my garden.

The other two neighbors loved the garden idea and even offered to help. How can I convince the dog guy that a garden would benefit all of us?

Aspiring Gardener

Dear Aspiring,

Gardening is a wonderful way to provide fresh, organic food for yourself, your friends, and your family. And if there's anything we should all learn from this economic mess we're in, it's how to get back to our, um, roots.

However, since you're not a homeowner with full control of your backyard, you have a few hurdles to jump through. First, you should contact your landlord. He or she may not like the idea of you digging up the dirt on the property. But with the landlord's approval, it's simply a matter of convincing your stubborn neighbor.

If the yard is large enough, you could suggest building a small fence around the garden to protect it from the neighbor's dog. Though I will say that I once put up a fence around my backyard garden, and it didn't stop my pooch from peeing through the fence onto my pepper plants (maybe that's why they all died).

If the neighbor doesn't buy that idea, talk to him about the benefits of a garden. Explain that it would provide not only you, but also all the people in your building with fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, etc. That will save everyone money, and as you mentioned in your letter, it also benefits the Earth. Eating locally means reducing food miles. Most conventional grocery store produce travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to plate!

If that doesn't work, you might consider gardening at Shelby Farms Park. They provide free garden plots (and free water) on a first-come, first-serve basis. Learn more at ShelbyFarmsPark.org.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

Comments (2)

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The 2 biggest challenges for most gardeners is weeding and proper watering. The system described at dripski.com addresses both of these issues and more. Once the system is set up it requires minimal attention and it's MUCH cheaper than raised beds, for which you need potting soil or something similar for it to work well. Happy gardening!!

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Posted by Henry on 03/10/2009 at 3:14 PM

Have you considered planting something in the front or side yards? Herbs look nice and are fairly easy to grow. Don't forget to consider the sun/ shade aspect of your yard as well. My midtown yard is so full of trees it is hard to grow anything that needs a lot of sun. And the raccoons and squirrels make it impossible to grow tomatoes. They leave the herbs alone.

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Posted by Deede on 03/11/2009 at 4:19 PM
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